In Today's Gospel.
Jesus defends Mary from Judas and other detractors. She anoints his feet with costly ointment and dries them with her hair. In the eyes of her detractors, nothing is done right, nothing she does or says is 'worthy'.
I came across a rather mean spirited criticism of Eve Tushnet last week - I can't remember which site it was on but I knew about it because some comments online are automatically emailed - evidently I'm a 'follower' of the guy who commented. Anyway - I found the comment to be unfair and degrading.
I posted recently on Eve Tushnet and a reader mentioned something regarding the impression of special treatment LGBTQ people seem to expect. I thought about that and pretty much went through Eve's book once again. (Gay and Catholic) There is much in her writings which remind me of things Fr. Benedict Groeschel wrote about in The Courage to Be Chaste. In fact, I wish Fr. Benedict was still alive because I think he would not as suspicious, even afraid of the Spiritual Friendship movement, as the rest of us seem to be at times.
Truth be told, much of what Eve writes is applicable to single Catholics, gay or straight. Fr. Benedict often liked to say that the single person, the celibate person is freed to be of service to others. We are available to serve others. That doesn't mean one needs to be a lector or Eucharistic minister, or RCIA instructor. Eve talks about actual service to others. You don't fit in at a parish, volunteer for Loaves and Fishes - you meet people, you serve people - you leave yourself in caring for others. Eve discusses her work in a crises pregnancy center, she even took in people, because she lived alone. Whether or not one agrees with everything Eve discusses, her advice is worthy of consideration and quite helpful for single people wondering what to do with their lives.
Having said that, I came upon something new Eve Tushnet wrote for Spiritual Friendship which speaks to some of the problems gay Catholics face from their "detractors", if you will. Eve Tushnet cites some things that I too have learned through personal experience, and I just want to share a couple of excerpts of what she wrote below.
Perhaps addressing some of the detractors of the Spiritual Friendship group, Eve writes:
"... we’re subjected to so many demands that we repeat, “I’m chaste! I’m celibate!” in order to earn an uncertain welcome in the church."She goes on to discuss the self-defeating sexualization of gay and same sex attracted Christians - and I think she nails it:
Some straight Christians seem to view everything we bring to our churches solely through the lens of our sexuality*. I just heard a couple heartbreaking stories from friends who were told that the abuse they had suffered, or their struggles with addiction, were the result of their homosexuality. I’ve had friends whose pastors assessed friendships and other relationships solely on the basis of whether they helped the friend remain chaste—as if chastity were the only virtue, and friendship was a sort of chastity accountability partnership. Basically, gay people are sometimes treated as if all our experiences are unusually sexually-charged, and all our relationships are either a) focused solely on chastity, or b) near occasions of sin. - Self-Defeating Sexualization...I'll just highlight three points Eve cites in the article which anyone might find useful when faced with temptations against chastity. Vigilance is necessary in temptation - but obsessing over the temptations can exhaust the person. Anyway, as Eve points out, this sexualization can be debilitating. She notes - my comments in italics:
- "It makes gay or same-sex attracted people afraid of intimacy, because every close relationship with someone of the same sex could be a temptation to sexual sin." - Yes - I agree.
- "It reduces us to our sexuality, which is dehumanizing." - Absolutely.
- " the assumption that gay people’s spiritual and moral problems center around chastity makes chastity harder." - Yes - because it becomes the focus, the constant fear/worry.
I think she is exactly right.
The devil loves nothing more than to upset us and cause as much anxiety as possible, including confusing us as to whether we consented to a temptation, or felt some sort of arousal or inclination to lust, and so on.
"When people are stressed, anxious, and alone, one obvious coping mechanism is lust. When we flee other people because they might tempt us, we often learn that we brought more than enough temptation in our own heads." - Eve Tushnet
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*That may be due to the fact the common understanding of gay-ssa-homosexuality as a 'sexual attraction' usually leading to homosexual acts, is often the first thing most people connect with when they meet persons who identify by their 'sexual' preferences. Attached to this is the popular practice of eroticizing friendship and close relationships.
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Ed. note: For what it's worth, and if you are interested, I've written in a more traditional vein on temptations against chastity here.